How can in-house lawyers help their organisations financially?

How can in-house lawyers help their organisations financially?

We recently commissioned research to look at how in-house counsel are approaching the issue of value creation within their businesses. Amongst the attributes identified in our report "Demonstrating value - making the intangible, tangible" as providing higher value and increasing the influence and impact of in-house legal teams were: (i) reducing the cost of service delivery; (ii) producing a service that reduces organizational margin loss; and (iii) producing a service that contributes to overall value.

We will consider each of these below.

Reducing the cost of service delivery

Most in-house lawyers agree that reducing the overall cost of legal service delivery is an important function of the in-house team. Some of the ways to help keep costs down include:

● Tracking how much legal work is retained in-house

● Actively reviewing spending on legal team, outsourcing where appropriate or bringing matters back in-house to minimise costs

● Implementing automation or other workflow processes to maximise efficiency

All the legal departments interviewed as part of the research use external legal expertise to some degree. One third used a mixture of law firms, alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) and legal consultants. Almost 90% of respondents have invested in at least one system or tool to increase productivity. But around three quarters said that the biggest challenge of embracing legal technology is the lack of internal skill sets, such as a dedicated legal operations executive (LOE).

Producing a service that reduces organisational margin loss

Reducing organisational margin loss essentially boils down to risk management. Virtually all in-house counsel (95% surveyed) think that the reduction of legal risk directly contributes to delivering value to their company. And 50% of in-house lawyers argued that effective legal risk management - along with protecting brand reputation and contributing to organisational strategy - is the most important way they deliver value. 9 out of 10 in-house lawyers agree that their team has a “seat at the table” when it comes to executive decision-making regarding activities that may carry reputational risk. But it’s mainly the larger legal teams that are able to perform reputational disaster planning exercises which can serve to identify any gaps and ensure the organisation is better prepared.

Producing a service that contributes to overall value

The ability of in-house legal teams to improve revenues of the business, rather than merely applying their legal expertise, is increasingly important in terms of the calculation of overall value. Over three quarters of inhouse lawyers actively look for ways to drive revenue growth, and 68% of those surveyed have business related financial targets. Although only 64% were directly involved in commercial negotiations with external parties such as customers and suppliers, 90% of respondents stated that they currently help inform and define their business’ strategy, with a similar number saying they deliver value through ‘improved cross business collaboration’.

Read the full report: Demonstrating value – making the intangible, tangible

Read our latest report in which we identify the activities that provide higher value and increase the influence and impact of the legal team, and share practical insights and approaches used today by legal departments to create value in each of these areas.

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About the author:
Alex Heshmaty is a legal copywriter and journalist with a particular interest in legal technology. He runs Legal Words, a legal copywriting and marketing agency.